Our Worship for 7th Sunday of Easter; 24th May.

Welcome to our worship offering for today. We are in the eleven days between Ascension Day and Pentecost and so, like Jesus’s disciples, this Sunday we are invited to pray quietly, reflectively and imaginatively, that we may feel the power of the Holy Spirit within us. So in the peace of your home, spend half an hour in prayer and praise.

Hymn: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

The Prayer for Today [Collect]

O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

First Reading: Acts 1: 12-14

After Jesus was taken up into heaven, the apostles went back from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Peace - contemplative at home

A Reflection on this Reading

Today we find the disciples back in Jerusalem after they have witnessed Jesus’s Ascension. The Mount of Olives where it took place is only a short distance from Jerusalem. 

A Sabbath walk – that is the distance you were allowed to walk on the Sabbath without breaking the Law – is only about half a mile, not quite one kilometre. Luke here is at pains to show that Jerusalem is still at the centre of the Paschal events. 

The eleven disciples, some women – including Mary, mother of Jesus – and his extended family, are meeting in an upper room. It is not known whether this is the upper room where the Last Supper took place, or the one where Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, or even the one in the house of John Mark’s mother (see Acts 12:12) 

There is a sense of expectancy, because the disciples will be waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit for ten days. But their time is not passive: they are actively engaged in prayer. The Greek word used in the original implies all are saying the same prayer. They form the ideal, harmonious praying community. They are content being attentive to God, and are doing it of one accord while they wait for the coming of the Spirit.

All joined in continuous prayer

A silent meditation on this Reflection: read the words slowly

As I prepare to pray, I may feel a desire to answer God’s call to me, to walk with him into stillness, into silence. I deliberately allow myself to rest, and wait. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me be fully present. 

Once I am ready, I read this short passage again reflectively. As I try to listen intently with my whole heart, I may be drawn naturally to reflect more deeply on a particular phrase or scene. I do not rush … for God is in no rush! 

I may use the God-given gift of my imagination to take me into an encounter within the scene depicted in the text. Where am I drawn? 

Perhaps it is to the Mount of Olives, seeing Jesus being taken into heaven? 

How does this experience speak to me in these life-changing times? Do I feel that Jesus is leaving me alone here on earth, or am I perhaps drawn into a deeper encounter with him? 

Or it may be that I want to join Mary and the disciples in expectant, attentive, hope-filled prayer in the upper room – whether as one of the disciples or as myself. 

What do I notice about Mary, grace-filled mother of Jesus, as she prays? 

What do I experience as I join in their continuous prayer, waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit, bringer of divine light? In words and silence, I have a conversation with the Lord. 

When I am ready, I slowly end my prayer.

Hymn: Before the Throne of God above.

Today’s Gospel: John 17: 1-11

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: ‘Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him, let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him. And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me with the glory I had with you before ever the world was. I have made your name known to the men you took from the world to give me. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now at last they know that all you have given me comes indeed from you; for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me. I pray for them; I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you have is mine and in them I am glorified. I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.’

Our Response to Jesus’s Prayer:

Eternal Father,
reaching from end to end of the universe,
and ordering all things with your mighty arm:
for you, time is the unfolding of truth that already is,
the unveiling of beauty that is yet to be.
Your Son has saved us in history by rising from the dead,
so that transcending time he might free us from death.
May his presence among us lead to the vision of unlimited truth
and unfold the beauty of your love.

Hymn: Jesus is Lord, creation’s voice proclaims it.

Our Prayers for Today

The disciples were left alone; waiting for the Holy Spirit. Today, we hold up to our heavenly father the times when we have felt alone and we pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts.

For those who are living alone and with little contact with others. For those who feel like outsiders. For those whose families are grown up and gone. For those facing bad news in their lives.

Loving God, there are times in every life when there is no one.  No one with whom to share a word, a laugh, reminiscence, a gentle touch.  Bless all those who suffer from such loneliness.  Enrich life with a friend or gentle stranger who will spend a moment noticing and loving.  In those times your love shines through, the world is reborn, and Christ is known.

Lord, may the gift of your Holy Spirit dwell in our hearts and minds

For those who feel different from the rest. For those who are persecuted and oppressed. For those who are victims of prejudice. For those who cannot speak for themselves.

Almighty God, as your Son our Saviour was born of a Hebrew mother, but rejoiced in the faith of a Syrian woman and of a Roman soldier, Welcomed the Greeks who sought him, And needed a man from Africa to carry his cross. So teach us to reach out to those who are different from ourselves and to understand that all of humankind are fellow heirs to your kingdom. 

Lord, may the gift of your Holy Spirit dwell in our hearts and minds

For those who are suffering in mind, body or spirit. For those in fear for themselves or others. For those who live with physical or mental pain.

Jesus our Healer, we place in your gentle hands those who suffer. Ease their pain, and heal the damage done to them in body, mind or spirit. Be present to them through the support of their friends and the care of doctors and nurses, and fill them with the warmth of your love now and always. 

Lord, may the gift of your Holy Spirit dwell in our hearts and minds

For those who have recently died. For those who mourn the death of others. For those whose past lives mean so much to us in our own lives. For those who minister to others at times of death.

We remember, Lord, the slenderness of the thread which separates life from death, and the suddenness with which it can be broken. Help us also to remember that on both sides of that division we are surrounded by your love. Persuade our hearts that when our dear ones die neither we nor they are parted from you.  In you may we find our peace and in you be united with them in the glorious body of Christ, who has burst the bonds of death and is alive for evermore, our Saviour and theirs for ever and ever. 

Lord, may the gift of your Holy Spirit dwell in our hearts and minds

O Lord, open our eyes to your Presence  
Open our minds to your grace  
Open our lips to your praises  
Open our hearts to your love  
Open our lives to your healing  
And be found among us.   Amen.

The Choir: Our Choir continues to create some lovely music to accompany our worship. This week we have the song ‘Lean on Me’ which has a resonance with our worship theme today.

This Week’s Notices

  1. Thank you to our Choir for their contribution today and especially to Neil and Tony for making it possible. Next Sunday (Pentecost) the Choir have a beautiful anthem for us and choral responses to our prayers.
  2. If you would like to participate in a Eucharistic ‘Virtual Service’, we can recommend streaming either the Diocese of Oxford ‘Church at Home’ service at 10:00am at oxford.anglican.org/livestream  (You can also download the order of service) or there is also a lovely Church of England service for Mental Health Awareness Week with a message from the Duke of Cambridge.
  3. Wednesday Compline: This weekly service led by Jane and Suzanne continues on Zoom: 8:45 for 9:00pm and it lasts about 20 minutes. If you would like to join us next Wednesday for a chat and a short service, just drop Jim a line on oliverjim1@sky.com and he will send you the link; it never fails to give us all a lift.
  4. Thy Kingdom Come: This global prayer movement invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension Day (21 May) and Pentecost (31 May) for more people to embrace Christianity.  This year, there is an exciting eleven day online programme of prayers, reflections and music.  If you haven’t got the booklet (Novena), go to the Thy Kingdom Come website for all the resources.
  5. Offerings/Donations: Our urgent need to increase our funding continues as our weekly offerings are significantly reduced without our church services. If you haven’t reviewed your stewardship in a while, please might you consider doing so this month? If you don’t regularly contribute to St Nicolas Church, might you make a donation today? Please click this link to donate now. Thank you.
  6. Action on Coronavirus: If you are aware of anyone who especially needs our prayers or perhaps some contact with Jane or Suzanne, please don’t hesitate to email Jane.

Best wishes for this week.

A Blessing: The Lord Bless You and Keep You [Rutter]

With thanks to The Batavia Madrigal Singers

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